HOW COMPUTERS REVOLUTIONIZE THE WAY WE FIGHT

The New and Improved War !

Want to see the movie about the next great war in the 21st century? Imagine…well wait…don’t bother we’ve already seen the film. It was produced back in early 1991, “The Gulf War” (brought to you in part by the U.S. military, the same people who brought you “Grenada” and “Operation Just Cause”). You probably know the main plot, but as with every war before, this one had many story lines. A significant twist or story line to this conflict unlike it’s predecessors was the battlefield debut of computerized
hi-tech bombs and munitions. We saw their precision, their destruction, we even saw the war through their eyes as they fell to the earth. Yes it was the first war film to be digitally released for your viewing pleasure. It seemed like a Nintendo Game, and we had all the controls, a seemingly flawless war. It was the advent of these computerized weapons that brought a fast victory in that conflict and that will be the future of wars to come. That’s my opinion, let’s investigate!
Since Vietnam, the military has sought to develop ways of fighting campaigns from afar to avoid risking countless lives in messy ground combat. The Gulf War was the testing grounds for the U.S. Armed Forces latest weaponry. Would these new munitions and systems with their embedded computers get the job done?
The beautiful thing about smart weapons is their ability to hit their targets with a good amount of accuracy. With weapons this reliable, you “the general” can now plan to such an extent that has never existed before.
The first objective of Desert Storm was to severely weaken Saddam’s ability to make war by wiping out his military’s infrastructure. The appropriate action- strike air defenses, then hit headquarters, communications and other command centers, with these assets gone the rest should be downhill. Simply put, a body can’t operate without a brain. If smart weapons could achieve this task perhaps their use alone would win the war!
The opening smart weapon of choice, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, was the Tomahawk Cruise Missile. The Tomahawk has an approximate range of 500+ miles; it is highly accurate relying on on-board computers to guide it to its target. Once it’s launched across the shoreline an extremely precise guidance method takes over. It scans the landscape at set points taking readings of the altitude and comparing them with map information in its memory.5 Wow!
The performance of the Tomahawk Cruise Missile in the Gulf War is certainly nothing to sneer at. The first allied hits on Baghdad were from these missiles launched from the Persian Gulf. They hit numerous air defenses, command and control centers and military industry. Initial reports of Desert Storm set its’ success rate at almost 90%! Of all the Tomahawks fired in Desert Storm 64% were launched in the first 2 days of the coalition’s offensive.4 During the war 297 Tomahawks were fired, 282 began their mission and hit successfully. At least 2 and possibly as many as 6 were shot down.5 If these figures are accurate they certainly speak for themselves.
Despite the Tomahawk missiles reliable track record in combat there is one downside to this amazing missile, they cost about 1.3 million dollars a piece!5 As a result of their price tag, the military uses Tomahawks for only the most important missions. Hey, you get what you pay for, right?
A cheaper and more abundant alternative to the Tomahawk came from the air.
F-117 Stealth Bombers also made quite a first impression in the war dropping laser-guided smart bombs on fixed targets. G.B.U.s or Glide Bomb Units utilize a guidance system consisting of a censor and computer attached to the front of the bomb and a set of fins on its rear. The F-117 shoots a laser on the desired target, when the G.B.U. is released it’s sensor looks for the reflected beam, then it uses it’s computer system and fins to guide the bomb toward the laser light. Each bomb cost $335,000 to make1, granted it’s not the cheapest weapon but at a third of the cost of the Tomahawk you can’t complain too much.
G.B.U.s turned out to be the most successful weapon of the war. It